In a driverless world, what’s the difference between Zipcar and Uber?

If the future looks as some urban planners and business interests predict, city dwellers increasingly will abandon their cars and instead use a network of shared driverless vehicles to pick them up, drop them off, and head out to get the next passengers.

It’s a big “if,” but companies from different corners of the transportation sector — including ride-hail services, rental firms, and even traditional auto manufacturers — are betting on it. These companies already compete with one another, offering different ways for their customers to get from A to B. But if driverless technology fundamentally changes the way people use the roads, it could also erase the boundaries that have long kept these businesses separate.

Take, for instance, Boston-based hourly car rental service Zipcar and the ride-hail firm Uber. Both consider self-driving technology a key part of their future, which could put their business models on a collision course. After all, once you eliminate the driver, what’s the difference between renting a car and hailing a ride?

“Everybody’s entering the market for driverless mobility as a service,” said Egil Juliussen, an auto expert with the research firm IHS Markit. “Once the car drives itself, it becomes the same thing. The business model for ride-hailing and car-sharing essentially merge.”

14. Dezember 2017

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